Know the illness-over-easter thing. Drove through the night last Friday morning to get the family to the coast while sick as a dog. Once here I opted to spend the whole Friday in bed while they all enjoyed the beach. It sucks!
Be prepared, be wise, and be yourself
Just a quick update. The ARB is 99% complete!!! Full write up including a plethora of pics to come shortly...
I'm pretty sure you forgot to mention that you'll be taking orders for custom ARB Bumpers for the rest of us as well! haha. Seen the pics on FB so far, looks great man!
2008 - Jeep Grand Cherokee - 3.0L CRD - Quadra Drive II - GDE Hot-Tune - OME HD Lift Kit - OEM Full Steel Skids
Blue WK Club Member #42 // DIESEL FTW !!!! -Ryan
Alright, it's been a long time coming! So finally here is my modified ARB build!
I bought a used bar last summer for $300, but was on deployment at the time. It was located in Colorado so I was going to need to get it out to Cali somehow. Not a big deal, a fellow member offered to pick it up and hold onto it for me until I got home.
Once I got home we worked on the logistics of shipping it from CO to CA. Contemplating different option over the matter of a few months we finally found a way to get it out here for FREE! I'm not one to argue with free, so even though I had to wait a while to finally get it I was excited to not pay shipping costs. Once it arrived I stripped it down and started taking measurements and finalizing as much of the planning as possible.
The end goal to this build was to shorten it as much as possible (suck it in closer to the Jeep) while still keeping the upper bar structure for added protection. I also planned to flush mount an LED light bar into the face and still find a way to keep it winch compatible. You see in it's stock form the ARB is designed to house a winch, but the winch is mounted foot forward to the back of the bar itself. Since the main goal was to shorten the bar, this was going to create clearance issues with the winch. It will make more sense once you start seeing the pics
So the first thing to do was unbolt the Matrix, bumper cover, and hidden winch to get the ARB chassis mount assembly on to see what I was working with.
Once it was bolted into place I could take all the precise measurements I needed to fit the winch back where I had it before between the frame rails. I wasn't sure it was going to work and to be honest even after bolting the mount assembly on and measuring the space I wasn't positive it would work. The winch was going to JUST fit and be an even tighter fit than it was before.
Next I bolted the ARB into place so I could figure out just how much I could take out of it without the bars contacting the headlamps, grill, or hood.
With the plan now being to take 2.5" out of the bar it was time to start marking and cutting. Here you can see the crumble zone section marked up with primer being the section I plan to delete.
With the 2.5" chopped out I had to clean up the cuts, line up the mounts where they needed to be, and tack them in place.
Now before completely welding them on I wanted to test fit the assembly into the bumper. I had to cut and trim a little in order for the assembly to fit farther forward into it's new position.
It was a tight fit with the fog light brackets so I trimmed a little off the sides to keep them from contacting. Then completely welded the mounts in place.
I cut openings into the sides of the mounts so I still had access into the frame.
Now that I had the mount assembly shortened up I needed to create a winch cradle onto the back side that would still clear the radiator. My depth couldn't exceed 6 3/8" otherwise it would contact the radiator. Using the same 1/4" steel I used last time to make my hidden winch I cut out a base plate and two vertical supports/gussets.
I lined up exactly where the plates needed to be and marked the welding areas. Then taped off where the welds were going to go and gave everywhere else a good coat of paint. This way there wasn't going to be unpainted surfaces under or behind the welds to become rusted.
Moving onto the bumper I made some templates to move the line of the rear edge forward 2.5"
Once the cuts were all made and the edge was smoothed out.
Next step was to mount the bar for a test fit and find where I needed to trim the sides.
Then I pulled it off and trimmed the sides. I also took out the gussets for the time being. Once that was done I started working on the cut out for the light bar. I picked up a 30" single row LED bar from Snevey's Offroad which measured out to exactly 27.5" and was PERFECT for this build. It packs a wallop at 21,000 lumens!
Once I got the light bar to fit just right I made a couple of tabs for it to bolt to and welded them on.
Then it was time for another test fit before moving onto the headlamp gap fillers.
Almost finished just a couple last modifications to go! Using some paper I made a couple of templates then I got a piece of 1/8" steel and made the pieces to weld under the headlamps to fill the gap created by their shape.
While I was at it I also filled in the hole that used to be an access hole for the clutch lever.
Then it was onto bondo. This was my first time using the stuff so it was a learning experience.
Next was sanding the entire bumper, then primer, and paint. For now I decided to simply paint the whole thing with Rust-Oleum Stop Rust semi-gloss black. This way it's an easier and cheaper paint job (over color matching it khaki) and touch ups after trail runs (or road rage ) will be easier. Not to mention the wife thought black would look better than khaki
Now time for the bumper assembly. After all that work there was still plenty of thing to do in order to get the finished bumper onto the Jeep permanently. First thing I did was bolt the buffers on. I had to buy new buffers because the nuts holding the old ones on were rusted in place, so I had the rip the buffers off and grind/cut the bolts off. I used my tire groover to cut the slit in the top which worked out quite well.
I trimmed the bolts down flush with the nuts to keep the chassis mount assembly from contacting them once it is mounted.
Next was to bolt the LED bar into place. As you can see it was a very tight fit!
Because of the offset bolt holes for the fairlead I had two option. I could modify the opening and bolt alignment to match the fairlead I had, or I could find a new one that was made for the ARB bumper. I ended up finding a very nice MileMarker aluminum fairlead on Amazon for $50 that would bolt right on and went for it. I must say it was well worth the money, it fits the shape/lines of the ARB very well, much better than the old one would have!
Then came the fun part I didn't care for the marker lamps that came with the ARB so I decided to play around with different ideas and make my own. This is what I came up with. I bought two packs of these LED strips from Amazon.
I made a backing plate using some scrap 1/8" plate.
I had a sheet of amber acrylic for making filters, so I cut a couple pieces to fit inside the ARB marker holes.
I spaced out the LEDs to sit at the top and bottom of the openings and used the double sided tape they came with to adhere them in place.
I picked up some stainless hardware to use for mounting.
Now to be sure the lens was going to end up in the exact place it needed to be in, I screwed the assembly in place and used clear silicone to glue the lens to the backing.
Then once that was dry I unscrewed them and completely sealed them up. Even though the LEDs are already water tight I didn't want water or dirt to get behind the lens.
And here they are before making the real assembly just for testing. This is what sold me. They give the front end a really unique look and are super bright! Definitely better than the single white DRL LED lights on just about every newer vehicle driving around these days!